The quest for the Philosopher's Stone and the doctrines dealing
with its transmutation power were a cornerstone of mediaeval
alchemy. The philosophical background and the more earthly
desire to transmute base material as lead into gold fueled the
development of science and especially experimental science.
Thus traces of alchemy can also be found in the works of Robert
Boyle or Isaac Newton.
Today's transmutation is linked to the desire to minimize and
eliminate potentially harmful radioactive waste and transmute
it into stable non radioactive products.